Denver officer appeals firing for speeding

Dec. 29, 2011 at 7:19 PM
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DENVER, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- A Denver police officer who was fired for driving drunk at 143 mph has appealed his dismissal, arguing his punishment was unfair and overly harsh.

Derrick Curtis Saunders was arrested Jun3 17, 2010, for speeding and driving while intoxicated, The Denver Post reported.

A Colorado State Patrol officer stopped Saunders as he was traveling 143 mph in a 55-mph zone. The officer also Saunders' blood-alcohol level at .089 percent, above the legal limit of .08 percent.

"The extraordinary high speed alone is stunning. The fact that you drove at this dangerous speed while your ability to drive was impaired by alcohol is shocking. In addition, you were driving at night and with a passenger in the car," Denver Manager of Safety Alex Martinez wrote in the Dec. 7 termination order.

Saunders pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to five days in jail, fined $300 and ordered to serve 100 hours of community service.

"Your misconduct demonstrates a willful and wanton disregard of Department values and demonstrates a serious lack of character related to fitness to hold the position of police officer, a Category F violation," Martinez wrote.

Saunders' appeal to the Denver Civil Service Commission claims Martinez's findings and penalties are "unfounded and/or unsupported by the facts" and were unfair.

The penalty is "disproportionate to the offenses alleged and/or is excessive so as to be punitive rather than corrective in nature," stated the appeal, filed by the Denver Police Protective Association's lawyers.

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